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Mitterrand in Kremlin for Talks on Arms

July 07, 1986|Associated Press

MOSCOW — French President Francois Mitterrand today began an official four-day visit to the Soviet Union that was expected to focus on disarmament, touch on human rights and include three meetings with Kremlin leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev.

Mitterrand and his wife, Danielle, were welcomed at a Moscow airport by President Andrei A. Gromyko and Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze before being taken to the Kremlin in a motorcade.

The first meeting between Mitterrand and Gorbachev was to be in the evening, followed by a gala Kremlin dinner.

The Soviet Union has courted France as a potential friend among the Western nations, and the Tass press agency announcement on Mitterrand's arrival called him the leader of a "friendly country."

Last week, Mitterrand met with President Reagan in New York for talks that officials said dealt mainly with East-West relations and the prospects for progress in arms control.

To Report on Meeting

The French president, who attended celebrations commemorating the 100th anniversary of the gift of the Statue of Liberty to the United States by France, promised to report back to Reagan on his Kremlin talks.

One issue likely to arise in Moscow is France's position on the U.S. Strategic Defense Initiative, commonly known as "Star Wars."

Mitterrand has opposed French involvement in the plan to develop space-based missile defenses, but Prime Minister Jacques Chirac, whose conservative coalition defeated Mitterrand's Socialists in March's parliamentary elections, has said he believes France cannot afford to be left out.

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